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Buckcherry Guitarist Keith Nelson On Being Back Together Again

By Debby Rao, Boston Contributor
Monday, July 10, 2006 @ 6:21 PM

"You don't have a band that br

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Buckcherry are all "Lit Up" and re-born. As the band hits the road in support of their latest album,” Fifteen” the core of the Buckcherry remains intact, featuring Josh Todd on vocals, and guitarist Keith Nelson. The un-censored version of Buckcherry's first single "Crazy Bitch” launched on the KNAC.COM playlist, then moved on to burn up satellite and terrestrial radio.

Buckcherry have returned to the concert scene with an exhilarating, newfound energy sparked by Keith Nelson's bluesy, riveting guitar riffs that fuel the backbone of the funky rhythms that have become Buckcherry's trademark.

In this exclusive interview for KNAC.COM, I spoke to Nelson about the current Buckcherry tour, the making of "Fifteen," the adult version of the "Crazy Bitch" video, the rebirth of Buckcherry, and the music industry today.

KNAC.COM: Hi Keith, How is the current Buckcherry tour going?

NELSON: The tour has been really incredible. So much of it is fueled by the success of "Crazy Bitch." Giving the fact that the song really is a direct result of fan response and not the big marketing machine or the business pushing it. The shows have been incredible.

KNAC.COM: I got to see you perform on your recent trip to Boston at the Middle East in Cambridge.

NELSON: Oh yeah!

KNAC.COM: That show was phenomenal. The club was sold out, and the energy of the band was amazing. The new songs sounded really great. I noticed there were a whole bunch of new Buckcherry fans at the show. Have you noticed a new generation of Buckcherry fans coming to your shows?

NELSON: Absolutely! There is this wave of fans that have to this band by way of "Crazy Bitch", and now they are going back and finding the first and second record. It is really connecting with a younger audience that we had previously known.

KNAC.COM: Tell me about the writing process for "Fifteen." How long did it take to compose the songs? I know it wasn’t written in "Fifteen" days.

NELSON: No, they were written in a period of like three of three or four months in L.A. in a rehearsal room that we just kind of got together at with keeping in mind that we were making a record. We wrote about thirty songs to get the eleven or twelve that are on the record. We recorded the record in "Fifteen" days.

KNAC.COM: What kind of goal did you have in mind, when you were recording?

NELSON: I think we just wanted to write great, catchy rock songs. We tried not to over think it too much. At a certain point, I want to sit back and look at a record and listen to a record that is a nice journey from beginning to end, if you play the record you want to play it again. That means not putting seventeen songs on it, and that means not making every song the same. I want there to be a nice cross section of kind of all the influences that are there. Hard songs like, “Broken Glass,” and songs like “Carousel,” and “Sorry.” The CD sounds different to anything that we have ever done before.

KNAC.COM: As a guitar player you show your diversity. You do the slide guitar on "Brooklyn"; "Crazy Bitch" has a great funky feel. There is also the ballad "Next 2 You."

NELSON: The thing is, that is all in there. Because we had the luxury and the misfortune of making the record on our own, there wasn’t anybody standing over our shoulder saying, “That song is too bluesy, that song is not modern enough, or too heavy.” We can make whatever we wanted. All the different lyrical colors and all the different guitar styles stuff got to come through. I think at the end of the day, it is all Buckcherry. I love the fact that it can lead a little bit to the right, or lead a little bit to the left and it is still my band, it sounds like us.

KNAC.COM: "Crazy Bitch", actually has 2 videos. Tell me a little about the adult version of the video.

NELSON: The reason we have the adult version, (not that we even thought it was the adult version) we just shot a video for that song. The whole story to that song is this: we never thought it was the first single; it was really just an introductory track to just reacquaint people over the Internet with the band. So we shot the video, something that would just be streamed online. You good people at KNAC.COM started spinning the song. I think you were the first outlet for the song. Satellite Radio started playing it, and it became the Number one most requested song. That was not our first single, but the fan response to it drove it to be the first single off of the record and now here we are three months later after the release, it is still climbing the charts. It is really, truly a matter of the fans deciding what they wanted to hear, and that is what we gave them. So as far at the "Crazy Bitch” single, we never thought we would summit it to Fuse or VH1. We never thought it was going to go anywhere.

KNAC.COM: Yes, and the single has really taken off, and you are right KNAC.COM was the first to play "Crazy Bitch."

NELSON: It has been a scramble to get a clean version of the song and the video for the mass market.

KNAC.COM: Over the years when Buckcherry were not together, did you remain in contact with Josh Todd and when did you start writing again?

NELSON: We kind of stayed in loose contact. When the band stopped existing, it wasn't like there was a blow out between Josh and I. We did not hate each other. We just kind of both stepped away from it. I had some things go down in my personnel life that were kind of traumatic. Josh was a true champion and he called me up directly, when he had heard. We re-kindled our friendship, where this whole second wave sparked from this whole conversation of just being friends.

KNAC.COM: Prior to the release of "Fifteen" you toured with Motley Crue in Japan in November. What was that like?

NELSON: I had met Tommy before. I had met Nikki before. Josh was kind of buddies with Nikki. It all just kind of made sense, we all were scheduled to be in Japan at the same time, so we had done a run of our own shows there, that we had sold out. They had those arena shows booked, and they asked us to come along. It was just a great opportunity for us to play with those guys. They are really awesome guys, Mick is way cool, and fun to hang out with. Our record actually came out there in October of last year. So it was already out. It didn't come out here till April of this year.

KNAC.COM: The Motley Crue re-union has been amazing. Do you see a resurgence of 80's music?

NELSON: I don't know whether there is such an 80's music kind of thing, it is just like the best of all music kind of demands that it survives. Out of those bands, that came from the the 80's, Motley Crue was the one with it's head above their shoulders out of all of the other bands. Just like Def Leppard are able to go out and do what they are doing. There are a lot of 80's bands I am sure that if they were put back together probably wouldn't generate much heat. Motley Crue is a different animal.

KNAC.COM: How has Buckcherry evolved since 1995?

NELSON: The current line-up, the songwriting, I think there is better musicianship. There is more cohesiveness among the band members. It is more of a gang, than it is ever been. As opposed to a bunch of guys that just can make music together. I never really thought of Buckcherry as a L.A. band, because I am not a L.A. guy. I am from Pennsylvania. The only person from L.A. is Josh. My drummer is from Austin, Texas, and Stevie the guitar player is from Chicago. Even though we kind of all got together in L.A., I don't think we are really adhering to that whole scene. That has something that really has never been important to us, being a L.A. band.

KNAC.COM: Tell me a little about your guitar roots? How did you get started playing the guitar?

NELSON: I started out as a drummer, from about the time I could pick up a wooden spoon and play on pots and pans. My house in the neighborhood was where the drum kit was, so the jam sessions happened in my garage. Everyone would leave their instruments around during the week, because we would play on the weekends. During the week, I would slip out into the garage and play someone's guitar and bass, not that I can play every instrument, I dabbled in a little bit of everything. So by the time I was seventeen, I decided I didn't want to drum anymore. I wanted to write songs, and I need a guitar to do that. So I switched to guitar and really started to paying attention to songs, and what made songs work. I started focusing on that.

KNAC.COM: Is your guitar to play by choice Les Paul?

NELSON: I have a big collection of guitars. It is all not just about the Les Paul but it is definitely one of my main guitars. I have been playing Zemaitis Guitars lately on the road with me. I am quite fond of those. I have Fenders, Gibson’s…

KNAC.COM: What is it like working with guitarist Stevie D?

NELSON: Stevie is awesome. Stevie is a phenomenal guitar player. He is a total team player. When you have two guitar combinations, the way we have, we just don't have a rhythm guitar player and lead guitar player, we have two guys that kind of play off of each other. Much like the relationship between Keith Richards, and Ronnie Woods. Not like we are on that same level but that is kind of like the goal. Stevie is just great. He is a great guy. He is fun to be in a band with, fun to play guitar with. He is a great listener; you have to be a great listener to really collaborate on the guitar.

KNAC.COM: What have you learned from the early days, not to do again business wise?

NELSON: There are so many lessons. You don't have a band that kind of breaks up and goes away without learning some kind of lesson. You are a fool if you don't walk away from that experience knowing what your mistakes are and just basically trying to avoid them. I think ultimately we have got to make music that we are proud of in our own way in order to fully get behind it. I think that is part of the biggest lesson that I learned. Regardless of what the marketing plans are, or what is on the radio, you have to do what you believe in. Otherwise you are a fraud, and people will get that. I think the reason, we are connecting right now is because people understand that is just us doing it, our way, and that is really attracting people to the music.

KNAC.COM: Buckcherry has a huge fan base on the East Coast. You have a big show coming up performing at this year's Locobazooka with Alice in Chains in August at The tweeter Center in Boston. Are you looking forward to sharing the stage with Alice in Chains?

NELSON: I am. We have run into Jerry, when he was in town They all have been really cool guys. Josh has sat in with these guys a few times. I am really looking forward to it, because I haven't seen the new line-up yet.

KNAC.COM: Is there anything else that you would like to say to your fans here at KNAC.COM? Any advice for aspiring guitarists?

NELSON: I am a big believer in just sticking to what you believe in and doing what you do. Really not letting any one persuade you from what your goals are, and what you believe in. There is room for all of the bands. It doesn’t have to be competitive between bands. In the 80's I heard these stories, how bands would compete against one another. I thought that was just a bunch of bullshit. I mean we are all just out here to make music. I think people just put a little more effect in it, supporting other bands.

KNAC.COM: What can the fans expect to see from Buckcherry later on down the road?

NELSON: If everything goes the way I would like it to be, we would be sitting here next year at this time, I would still be on the road, and we would be talking about our fourth or fifth single. We would still be touring taking the music to the people.

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